Thank You!

A special thank you to the late Thomas William Riding, former managing director and chief executive of W & J Riding for 25 years, to whom this website is dedicated.

Over the years Tom was kind enough to supply a vast amount of detailed historical information along with many of the superb rare photographs featured and without his invaluable help and dedication this website would not have been possible.

The site now contains over 2500 images, complete with in depth details, all of which are accessible via the main menu & side menu (marked with the mobile menu icon of 3 lines on a mobile & tablet).


W & J Riding used Leyland vehicles of all types almost exclusively for the first 30 years of its existence from postwar through the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s.

Back in 2017 the late Tom Riding recalled…….

“In my opinion the 600 and 680 engines were supreme while the Leyland Beaver and Leyland Octopus were rugged machines built for hard work and endless pain.

The spares and service back up provided by Leyland at that time was also second to none, so all in all it was a winning formula for our company for many years”.

1955 and with denationalisation well and truly behind them the good times had now really started to roll at W & J Riding.

These two superb 1955 registered Leyland Octopus Reg No’s WTF 574 Fleet No 24 and XTB 198 Fleet No 25 were purchased brand new and ran for 10 years after which time they were then brought into the workshops for a complete rebuild.

Reconditioned engines were fitted as were new cabs and new 25′ bodies, this time aluminium with wooden floors.

The original 900/24 wheels and tyres were replaced with 1000/20 Michelin ‘X’ tyres and 20′ wheels.

Leyland Octopus Reg No XTB 198 Fleet No 25, registered new in 1955, is pictured here once again in 1966 after its rebuild.

All of W & J Riding’s eight wheeler’s were fitted with brakes on every wheel, something that Leyland Motors never did on the production line.

This prolonged the brake lining life and gave the vehicle an enhanced brake performance along with increased driver confidence.

A rear end shot of Leyland Octopus Reg No XTB 198 Fleet No 25 in all it’s splendor just after it’s rebuild.

A reconditioned engine was fitted as were a new cab and new 25′ body, this time aluminum with wooden floors.

The original 900/24 wheels and tyres were replaced with 1000/20 Michelin ‘X’ tyres and 20′ wheels.

Leyland Octopus Reg No XTB 198 Fleet No 25, registered new in 1955, is pictured here on a Saturday morning on the wash bay in the depot at Longridge in 1966.

These were the days before automatic drive through’s and electric power washers when all the vehicles in the fleet were painstakingly washed by hand.

Photograph courtesy of the late Roger Kenney of which Tom Riding kept the accompanying letter from 1966.

May 1955 and Reg No VTF 658 was the first brand new Leyland Comet to enter service with W & J Riding.

Pictured parked outside the depot in Longridge, with it’s trade mark chrome bumper, this would be the first of many Leyland Comets that Riding’s purchased new over the following years.

The first of many Leyland Comets arrived in 1955. Reg No VTF 658 was new in May 1955 while Reg No WTB 881 was new the following July.

In 2015 the late Tom Riding recalled below……

“WTB 881 was first driven by Bert Slater who eventually was made up to be one of the yard foremen.

Three years later he was given another new Leyland Comet, Reg No 750 FTD, which was later sold on to Charles Holt of Rochdale when we had finished with it.

WTB 881 always sounded different from the other Comets and was a great favorite of mine”.

Leyland Octopus Reg No WTF 574 Fleet No 24, new in 1955, is seen here shortly before being rebuilt getting its feet well and truly soaked in the over flowing River Wharfe on the A659 near Otley West Yorkshire.

Tom Lambert was the driver on this occasion but the deep water doesn’t seem to bothering him or the wading Leyland Octopus.

One of Tom Riding’s all time favourite photographs shows Leyland Octopus Reg No WTF 574 Fleet No 24 after emerging from it’s rebuild in 1966 complete with a full set of wheel trims and chrome bumper.

The late Tom Riding continued below….

“The exclusive Woodward’s side-rave on the body puts the finishing touch to the whole lorry.

Driver Norman Holland has made a superb job of loading the conveyor belts and has protected the side-raves from scuffing from the chains with pieces of belting.

He looks quite proud and so he should be”.

A rear end shot of Leyland Octopus Reg No WTF 574 Fleet No 24 after driver Norman Holland had parked up for the night in Thirsk North Yorkshire in 1968.

Loaded with 16 tons of alkathene from the ICI plant at Wilton near Redcar on Teesside Norman is pictured checking the tension of the ropes.

To the left of the picture is the rear of a Riding’s 26 foot Crane built tandem axle trailer being hauled by Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4×2 tractor unit Reg No VTF 270D which was loaded with a 20 ton load of Plas Bins, also collected from the ICI plant at Wilton, which were destined for Wythenshawe near Manchester.

Leyland Comet ECOs2/4R four wheeler Reg No YTC 320 Fleet No 26 Chassis No (564513) was registered new in March 1956.

Driven by Jess Yeulett, who stayed with Riding’s until his retirement, it is pictured here on Preston Dock after having just loaded up with a Lancashire flat and with no twist locks in those days Jess can be seen roping it down.

The late Tom Riding recalled….

“This was the third Leyland Comet that we bought out of a total of fourteen that were acquired over the following three years.

They were good fast machines but in those early days suffered from constant overloading”.

Photograph courtesy of the late Ron Hall of Leyland Motors.

A superb period shot of Leyland Comet four wheeler Reg No YTC 320 Fleet No 26 which was registered new to W & J Riding in March 1956.

Driven by Jess Yeulett it is pictured here during the backbreaking manual loading of timber on Preston Dock.

In the background is the now long gone Preston power station along with the overhead gantry spanning the River Ribble which carried the coal from the dock side to the furnaces.

Photograph courtesy of BCVM Leyland.

This stunning colour photograph shows on the right Leyland Comet Reg No 60 DTE Fleet No 40. 

Registered new in October 1957, and driven from new by the late Tommy Bagot, it is seen here in the yard at Longridge.

Note all the sheets and ropes on the cab roof prior to loading up later in the yard with drums of trichloroethylene. 

On the left is 1948 registered four wheeler Leyland Beaver Reg No NVT 460 Fleet No 18 which was purchased, along with it’s ‘A’ licenses, in 1954 when six years old from Preston British Road Services at Water Lane. 

Riding’s ran this vehicle for eight years as a draw-bar trailer outfit until 1962 when it was taken into Riding’s own workshops and cut down and transformed into a 4X2 tractor unit. 

Photograph courtesy of Tim Forrest. 

Leyland Comet ECOS2/4R four wheeler Reg No 921 DTJ Fleet No 41 was powered by a Leyland 350 engine in line with a 5 speed gearbox and Eaton 2 speed axle.

Registered in January 1958 it was driven from new by the late Harold Swanson who later went on to form his own company with his brother Jack.

It is seen here in Glasgow over 60 years ago loaded with asbestos pipes from the Turners Asbestos factory at Dalmuir for onward delivery to a location in the Northwest of England.

At that time Riding’s were using a Mr David Vetters on a commission basis to load all their vehicles for the South which he did very successfully for quite a few years until Riding’s opened a depot in Wishaw after which time they worked directly for the British Steel Corporation at Motherwell.

Leyland Comet four wheeler Reg No 900 FTD Fleet No 44 was registered new in 1958.

This was the last Leyland Comet of this type to be delivered and was driven from new by David Cronshaw a driver from Accrington.

Back in 2013 the late Tom Riding recalled in detail…….

“We fitted them all with trailer towing equipment and vacuum brake connections from new and at that time regularly sent them to Hillhouse works with a trailer to bring back 20 tons of trichloroethylene in drums which was then trans-shipped onto various other vehicles at our depot in Longridge.

In my time i only ever knew of one major Leyland engine failure and that occurred in Reg No DTB 914 which was going down the hill outside the Cross Keys Hotel at West Marten.

The driver seriously over revved the engine and the cam followers broke and pushed out the side of the crankcase.

Leyland had by this time modified the cam followers so they just gave us an engine under warranty.

Leyland Motors at this time were a first class firm”.

Although looking for all the world like a standard 24-cabbed Leyland Beaver 4×2 tractor unit Reg No 680 ETJ Fleet No 42 was first registered in April 1958 by Riding’s as a 680 engined four wheeler rigid Beaver that pulled a draw-bar trailer.

It was driven by Dick Walton in both its forms who was another 40 year Riding’s man.

Note the registration, when ever a new type of engine was available the first vehicle to come with one always had the appropriate reg number, a nice W & J Riding touch.

Unfortunately during the Easter weekend of 1965 this vehicle slid on the ice and collided with a telegraph pole, a picture of which can be found in Accidents Happen.

A nice line up of five W & J Riding Leyland’s seen here parked in the yard at Longridge in 1960.

Nearest the camera is Leyland Comet Reg No WTB 881 then Leyland Comet Reg No 900 FTD Fleet No 44  then Leyland Comet 750 FTD Fleet No 43 unfortunately the other two are unidentifiable.

Photograph courtesy of Tim Forrest.

Another Leyland Comet four wheeler, which was a new addition to the fleet in 1958, was Reg No 750 FTD Fleet No 43.

This vehicle was later sold on to Charles Holt & Sons of Whitworth near Rochdale where it was repainted in the company’s familiar green and red livery as can be seen in this picture by Adrian Cypher who photographed it in 1968 while it was parked outside a transport cafe on the old A420 that ran through Swindon Wiltshire in the days before the M4 Motorway was built.  

Leyland Steer Reg No 880 FTF Fleet No 45 was purchased new by Riding’s direct from Leyland Motors on the 26th of June 1958 at a cost of £3,459 17s 5d.

Registered on the 1st of August 1958 it is seen here parked in the yard at Longridge while waiting to head back to Accrington where it was out-based along with Leyland Steer Reg No 868 LTJ, seen in the picture below.

In 1964 880 FTF would be later chopped down and converted into a Leyland Beaver 4×2 tractor unit.

Leyland Steer 16S/3 Reg No 868 LTJ Fleet No 53, registered new in November 1959, was one of four Leyland Steers in the fleet at that time.

The late Tom Riding recalled below….

“It was all to do with the ‘A’ licence and trying to increase the carrying capacity of our fleet.

This machine along with Reg No 880 FTF were out-based in Accrington and were used on the Darlington changeover, with Albert Brown and Ken Wade the two drivers.

The picture above shows the Steer deputising for an Octopus and is massively overloaded but fortunately it doesn’t show”.

Registered new in 1959 Leyland Octopus Reg No 980 HTE Fleet No 49 was the first in the fleet fitted with a Leyland 680 engine.

Driven from new by Joe Masterson Snr it spent most of it’s life on the Darlington change over and was later driven by Anthony Freeman.

Also the late Tom Riding recalled that this was the first vehicle in the fleet that would go up Sawley Brow, on the old A59, fully loaded with a gear to spare.

Leyland Octopus Reg No 980 HTE Fleet No 49 seen here in later life after been taken off night trunking due to the run requiring a larger articulated vehicle.

Allocated to general haulage work on days it is pictured here being driven by Anthony Freeman while coming into the center of Thirsk in North Yorkshire to park up for the night.

Lovely colour shot of Leyland Octopus Reg No 980 HTE Fleet No 49 taken by long time serving driver Anthony Freeman who worked for Riding’s for 39 years both as a driver and foreman.

Pictured here in the Winter of 1960 it is parked in Whitefield Greater Manchester with a nicely sheeted 16 ton load of ICI alkathene.

Photograph courtesy of Anthony Freeman.  

Another excellent colour shot of  Leyland Octopus Reg No 980 HTE Fleet No 49 taken by long time serving driver Anthony Freeman.

This time pictured in a lay-by near Yarm in North Yorkshire you will notice it is now has a full set of chrome wheel trims that Tom Riding bought for drivers Anthony Freeman and John Robinson as they both kept the vehicle immaculately clean.    

When Leyland Was King!

This impressive yard shot, taken in the late 1950’s, shows a few of the many Leyland built rigids and draw bar outfits that Riding’s ran in those days.

But Leyland domination would be all about to change as within a few years of this picture being taken Riding’s fleet would become dominated by Atkinson articulated vehicles as the late Jim Riding, who for years had been dead against articulation, finally relented and the rest is history.